Posts Tagged ‘Human Life Review’

A Hero Among Heroes

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Last night, the media and the political world were all focused on the Al Smith Dinner, where Cardinal Dolan hosted the two presidential candidates and many of the leading public officials and political figures from New York and across the nation.

I’m sure it was a wonderful event, full of the best professionally-written jokes.  But they were all looking at the wrong dinner.

I had the good fortune of being at the right one — the annual Great Defender of Life Dinner, hosted by the invaluable Human Life Review.  Every year, this event gathers pro-lifers from New York and around the nation, to offer an evening of fellowship and mutual support.  It gives us a chance to see the real face of the pro-life movement — not the blinkered media stereotype, but the wonderful, dedicated people who are committed to protecting and preserving human life at all stages.  It is a celebration of their love for each other, love for God, and love for the precious gift of life.  So many quiet, ordinary people — so many heroes for life, building a true civilization of love in their everyday lives.

Every year, there is an award for a Great Defender of Life, and this year there were two recipients.  The first was Advocates for Life, an organization of young pro-life attorneys and law students who are dedicated to resisting the culture of death that is so deeply entrenched in the law and in the legal community.  It is very uplifting to see so many of my fellow attorneys who have enlisted in this great cause.

The second honoree has a special significance for me — former Senator and federal judge James Buckley.  For those of us who came of political age in the Seventies, Mr. Buckley was a major formative figure.  A man of deep moral fibre, he was a model to us that it was possible to be a man of principle in the world of politics.  On so many of the crucial issues of the day, he gave witness to the importance of high moral standards, and a commitment to the common good of all.

In his long and distinguished career, one of the highlights was his sponsorship of the Human Life Amendment.  This was the first comprehensive attempt to overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, and Senator Buckley’s 1975 floor speech in support of the amendment is a classic statement of the fundamental pro-life position.  (This speech can be found in the Human Life Review’s volume on “The Debate Since Roe” — a must read for pro-lifers)

Before the dinner, I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Buckley, and I was able to tell him that he has long been one of my heroes.  In his typically humble, self-effacing manner, he accepted my compliment and managed to turn it into a genial joke, precisely what one would expect from a true Catholic gentleman.

Last year, the honoree at the dinner was Paul Greenberg, the great journalist and essayist.  During his address, he said something that has stayed with me, and that should haunt all of us: “Whether the issue is civil rights in the middle years of the 20th Century or abortion and euthanasia today, a still small voice keeps asking: Whose side are you on? That of life or of death?”

To many of us, that still small voice was heard in the soft, erudite tones of our Senator James Buckley, speaking gently but firmly, giving witness consistently and heroically for life, and encouraging us all to join him in that noble cause.

May we all answer in the same way as did this Great Defender of Life.

There Has to Be A Record

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

We only know about because St. Matthew remembered it, and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote it down for the record.  If not for that, it would have been lost, and nobody would have known what actually went on there.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Mt. 2:16)

Nobody knows their names, those Holy Innocents who were massacred so that a corrupt king could retain the worldly trappings of power and luxury.  Nobody knows the grief felt by their families.  Nobody can measure the effects of the tragedy.

But there is a record.  We know what happened.  The world will not forget them.  We understand why they were killed, these first martyrs.

One of the dangers in our modern information-drenched world is that key facts, essential events, are too easily lost in the fog of meaningless data.  Too often it seems that there’s just too much out there for people to comprehend all the important things that are going on.  Ironically, it’s as easy as ever for people to offer the excuse — “we didn’t know what was actually going on.”

Thanks to St. Matthew, we don’t have that excuse when it comes to the Holy Innocents.  We know what happened, and why.

And, in the same way, a sacred obligation has fallen on us to make sure that the stories of the modern-day Innocents are told.

The world increasingly wants us pro-lifers to sit down and be quiet, to allow business as usual to go on unimpeded by awkward questions about abortion and euthanasia.  Ambitious and value-free politicians call for a “moratorium” on discussions about “social issues” so that money and power can be divided up.

“There has to be a record,” wrote the late J.P. McFadden, the great founder of the indispensable Human Life Review.  “No one should be able to say, whatever happens, that they didn’t know what’s actually going on here.”

I’ve recently been reading through a book published by the Human Life Review, entitled The Debate Since Roe: Making the Case Against Abortion 1975-2010.  It should be required reading for anyone who wishes to serve in public office or comment on public affairs.

It preserves the record of how we’ve gotten to where we are today — how our culture has tried to suppress the truth, to ignore the voices of the Innocents, to send them down the “memory hole”.  But it also tells of the heroic efforts of many others who refuse to allow the record to be erased, who refuse to allow these lost children to be forgotten.

Generations to come will look back on this age and be astonished that we permitted the slaughter of millions of innocent children.  But the only reason they will know about it is that there is a record.

Nobody will be able to say that they don’t know what’s actually going on here.